Colombia or Brazil? Kenya or Ethiopia? Indonesia or Thailand? Which country to choose from, but does it even matter?
That last question is easy to answer – yes. The others, a little harder.
Coffee is grown in over 50 countries around the world (National Coffee Association). You’ll find it mostly in an area called the Bean Belt. This belt, as the name suggests, circles the globe, covering parts of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It sits over the Equator but stretches as far north as Mexico and Myanmar and as far south as Zimbabwe and Brazil.
And exactly where your coffee is produced, out of this vast range of countries, will affect how it tastes, how it was grown, and more. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common coffee origins.
HOW COFFEE ORIGIN AFFECTS YOU
Consumers, you might find that you like the fruitiness of an Ethiopian coffee, the balanced and sweet notes of a Guatemalan, or the earthiness of an Indonesian – but you won’t know until you try these origins.
As Catherine Gu, a green coffee buyer for Latorre & Dutch Coffee, tells me, “People want to drink different and interesting coffee flavors… The appreciation of the origin flavor is quite precious.”
What’s more, different countries face different challenges, whether that’s low wages, political instability, or coffee pests. If you’re looking to buy sustainably sourced coffee, having an awareness of what’s going on in your favorite origins will help.
Richard Keane, Q-grader and Co-Owner of the family-owned and US-based green bean importers Balzac Brothers, tells me that when he looks to buy coffee from Africa, he’s looking for acidity and fruity notes.
Central Americans will often taste familiar to a US palate, thanks to their proximity. Richard tells me that the countries here are characterised by balance: all the different elements work together to create what is, usually, a great coffee. You can expect a good body, good acidity, and fruitiness.
A huge continent, Asia offers plenty of diversity in its origins. The most famous include Indonesia, known for an earthy or smoky profile – although Richard tells me you can find fruity notes and huge bodies here – and Vietnam, the world’s second-largest producer of coffee. Vietnam primarily producers Robusta, however, a coffee species known for being bitter and less aromatic.